PUBLIC SERVICES MANAGEMENT: ACTIVITIES, INITIATIVES AND LIMITS TO LEARNING
Jenny Harrow and
Journal of Management Studies, 1990, vol. 27, issue 3, 281-304
Private sector‐style management initiatives to ensure UK public services managers’ learning from private sector management practice are examined, and their rationale questioned. The lack of a coherent, systematic and agreed view of what constitutes ‘management’ and ‘managerial work’ in the private sector is discussed. It is argued that there are reasons for believing that the particular character and organizational contexts of public services will require different managerial behaviours. The manner in which experimental managerial initiatives in some public services have shifted into mandatory innovations is examined. Such innovations can be incompatible with the values of those managing in the public service, who frequently fail to recognize the advantages of late innovation, incrementalism and circumspection. In public services particularly, many managerial activities are the province of ‘non managerial’ staff. Though frequently not considered, the values of these de facto managers may be central to the progress of such innovations. It is further argued that risk‐taking as applied in a business context is inappropriate to the degree that public services managers must be concerned with the common weal, equity and accountability. The article concludes with a detailed research agenda to support the need to recognize public services management as a rich and varied area of managerial behaviour in its own right. Its character and variation warrants further investigation as a basis for formulating more appropriate management concepts against which to measure public services managers’ behaviour and performance.
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:27:y:1990:i:3:p:281-304
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